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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

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2-76                              LIFE OF
had not much opportunity of showing these qualities,
•which appeared more fully when her husband again
entered on public life, and the most extended circle
had access to their hospitable house.    There she ap-
peared always as the reigning spirit, while he, whose
sphere  was more the public and universal  interest,
followed his own inclinations and purposes in social
life.    This was an important part she had to play, for
she thereby also smoothed the path on which her hus-
band laboured.    In Jena, already, and to a greater
extent subsequently in Paris, Rome, Vienna, Berlin,
, and  Tegel, the  house  of Humboldt was universally
known as the centre of intellectual and social life, as
the "point de ralliement** as she herself calls it, for
natives and foreigners.    Her house was open to every
man of mind and talent, even without a recommenda-
tion.      If Madame de Stael and Madame de Recamier
are named as those who, in the most social country in
Europe, were the point of union for the intellectual
life in modern times, we may mention as their equals,
among German ladies, Madame von Humboldt and
Eahel Levin, who, in the absence of qualities which
made  a  Stael   shine,  have  other advantages which
perhaps only German women of such eminence pos-
sess.    Varnhagen von Ense says, in his £C Gallery of
Pictures/'  "The amiability of  mind and  character,
the high degree of social cheerfulness, and the great
and noble activity whida distinguished this charming
woman during a highly-fortunate life, are still too fresh
and too highly cherished in the memory of all who
knew her to make any mention of it necessary/'    It
would certainly have been a great acquisition for us, if
the varied life of Madame von Humboldt had been
recorded in letters such as those of Rahel.    Such a
memento would have cast a still brighter light on
Humboldt^s character, and might have enabled us to
give to those recollections of William von Humboldt
more biographical completeness; but we hope they will
nevertheless be considered as characteristic of his life
and tendencies, and enable the reader to form, an esti-
mate of one of Germany's greatest men in modern days.